RIP Rick.

I recently received the devastating news about our great friend, Councillor Rick Johnson.

Over the time I’ve known Rick, I’ve been lucky enough to call him a friend, boss, colleague and, most importantly, a mentor. I had the honour of working for Rick while he was the conservative candidate years ago in Ajax-Pickering and later for him during his time as a Regional Councillor. I also had the privilege of working for Rick’s local business, Nash Can Spas, with his wife, Sue, who I adore and look up to greatly, and send my best during this incredibly difficult time.

In 2014, when I began my own campaign, many of the political influences in my life were too occupied running their own campaigns for me to sit down with for some advice. Rick and Sue, however, were always there to lend an ear in the midst of Rick returning to his home at Pickering City Hall himself. Rick and Sue both demonstrated such compassion to take time out of their busy schedules to sit down with me.

I am still in complete shock and cannot fully put into words what kind of a person Rick Johnson was. I knew Rick as someone who always had his hand out to give, never to receive. He was one of the most community-oriented politicians I’ve ever witnessed. He connected with constituents like no other and his customer service was second to none in both business and politics.

I will miss Rick dearly and will keep Sue, his son Chris, and the rest of the Johnson family in my thoughts and prayers.

The one thing Rick told me about a political campaign, and what will always stick with me, was this simple; “Plan the work and work the plan”.

Rest in paradise Rick.

The regions you served, the loving family you created, and myself, the budding politician you always made time for, will miss you dearly.

Thank You for 5 Great Years, DYC!

This morning, with a heavy heart, I informed Youth Chair Fitzgerald that I would be resigning as Deputy Chair of the Durham Youth Council and my seat on Youth Council.

As the founder of the DYC, I’ve spent the last five years working in various roles with the DYC including stints Youth Chair, Deputy Youth Chair and CEO. During that time I got to spend time working with some of the brightest youth across Durham Region. The passion that youth have shown for our organization and our region is something I never expected nor dreamed of when I started this organization five years ago.

Youth Chair Kyle Fitzgerald, who took over from me as Youth Chair in January 2014, has been doing a tremendous job as Youth Chair and I can’t say enough about his work ethic and devotion to the Durham Youth Council. Kyle has served with me on Youth Council for the majority of the past five years and has always been a strong voice of reason and a common sense leader. His team has been extremely effective at brining forward policy to Youth Council that is helping DYC connect even better with the youth of Durham.

I want to thank some politicians in the region who helped me along the way. Pickering Regional Councillor & Deputy Mayor, Kevin Ashe. Kevin has been a proponent of our organization since it began five years ago. Kevin has never shied away from his support for us and has always been willing to lend a hand especially when it came to raising money. Mayors Dave Ryan (Pickering), Adrian Foster (Clarington) and Gerri-Lynn O’Connor (Uxbridge) have also been key advisors to Youth Council and helped us sustain our rapid growth over the years. I also want to thank MPP’s Lorne Coe, Minister Tracey MacCharles and Joe Dickson as well as Regional Chair, Roger Anderson, who have always attended our events and have always brought a listening ear to the table. Last but not least is former Pickering Councillor & Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson who helped me settle into my role as Youth Chair in 2011 through lots of wisdom, and guidance. Doug was also always there to help Youth Council raise money when it was needed.

I’m going to miss Youth Council meetings, my colleagues and all the youth across Durham I’ve got to know and work with over the past half-decade. This decision didn’t come easy but my schedule just doesn’t permit me to be effective in my current role and that isn’t fair to my council colleagues or the youth of Durham.

I’m confident that the Durham Youth Council is being left in better than great hands in Youth Chair Kyle Fitzgerald and I look forward to, down the road, serving in an un-official capacity or as a member of the Board of Directors.